“The world of old is no more.”
To put it quite simply, I absolutely loved this book! Who’d have thought that me and a post-apocalyptic western would get along… I was totally surprised with how well this story captured my interest and kept it there throughout the whole thing. Here’s a smashing review for you to read!
The Marshal by J.S. Matthews was unique in so many ways. After destruction hit, mankind struggled to survive with what they had left. Hundreds of years later, humanity is rebuilding, but a man named Wes Kerrigan has a cruel plan to take all that away. The Marshals, plus an unlikely assistant, travel far and wide to take him down, but will they succeed in time?
The story starts with a solid prologue, and we’re introduced to a number of memorable characters. We witness some true, gritty, western fiction straight away which really drew me in. It actually surprised me with how good it was! It gave me such confidence for an adventure that would stick with me. From an early gun fight to the chilling descriptions of certain characters, I was really impressed with the opening chapter and the following chapters I read did not disappoint either. A captivating start which certainly made me want to continue reading!
I’d definitely award top marks for making the reader think they’re in a desolate town – the description was perfect, and visions of sandy open plains, cacti and broken streets really set the scene just right in my eyes. It was a little eerie, but I was very curious to see how things would develop and what kinds of dangers would lie in this town. Elizabeth was a strong character from the very first time she was mentioned in the book, and I was instantly attached to her. Why was she on that train? And why on Earth would she need that gun…?
After a train ride of mystery with some fellow Marshals, we come to learn of a wanted man, someone the Marshals had been searching for for many years. After chatting with a familiar prisoner and collecting some much needed information, we understand that an important mission is about to begin; to find Wes Kerrigan. But after many failed attempts in the past, what makes this team of Marshals sure they’ll succeed this time? Elizabeth is sure to play a huge part, and I had such high hopes for this character.
“That man is the single most destructive outlaw I ever had the unfortunate pleasure of encountering, and that means we need an equally destructive one to track him down.”
The more we learn about Kerrigan, the more we understand how dangerous he could be, especially if he can get hold of the remote detonator those robbers were so interested in. I quickly began to get a strange fear for this guy, and already, I wanted the Marshals to succeed in their task of tracking him down. The beginning of the book was great, and with each page, it became increasingly difficult to put down!
On their journey, the prisoner, Rubin Stark, traveled alongside the Marshals to assist with the capture of Kerrigan. I felt on edge as this dangerous man assisted the group; how could they be so sure that they could trust him? Would he be tempted to point his gun on them because of his history with Kerrigan? Despite this, I loved the additional danger throughout the book. Each page was exciting and unpredictable, with each character creating so many posibilities. Elizabeth is still unsure why she was chosen for such a dangerous task. How could the other Marshals be sure she could handle it?
The description in the more action-packed scenes of the book was amazing! Every minute detail of a gunfight or the actions of a character have been included, transforming the book into more of an experience than a novel. This impressed me so much that I often forgot where I was, instead thinking that I was sat next to Elizabeth while she fired at bandits, or thinking I was a member of the public as they cowered away from danger. It’s something that I can’t quite put into words, but the way the story has been written is truly remarkable.
The process of finding Kerrigan was like one huge jigsaw puzzle, and I loved how each piece fitted together. The Marshals split up and search for clues of his whereabouts, and I was really impressed with how each clue fitted with the next to bring them closer and closer to this wanted man. The book has some elements of mystery, which, when combined with a western, made this book completely unique. Each new scene that unfolded made me love the plot even more – I found it so clever, and it’s obvious that immense care has been taken to ensure every tiny part of the story fits perfectly together. It just works. The author’s talents in storytelling are clear, and I’m already so keen to read more of his work.
“It’ll be tough, but everyone leaves a trail. Even Kerrigan.”
As time went on, Rubin Stark seemed to change as a character. Even though he seemed a dangerous man at first, their journey to find Kerrigan seemed to change him. He goes the extra mile to save Elizabeth when she’s in trouble, does his best to lead the Marshals and keep them safe, and begins to open up to Elizabeth about his reasons for becoming an outlaw. I loved this character – the author has created someone unique, someone who we are forced to fear in the beginning, but someone who we grow to almost admire as time goes on, even though he still isn’t perfect. Such an impressive way to portray a character, and it has been done so well. Would Rubin be able to lead them to Kerrigan? Could the Marshals put their trust in him completely?
As we get closer to the end of the story, we begin to read about Kerrigan and his whereabouts while Rubin and the Marshals are trying to track him down. I really liked how we followed both stories as time went on, and it was exciting to read how close the Marshals were getting to his location. However, Kerrigan has eyes everywhere, and seems to always be one step ahead of them. It will be interesting to see if there will be a final showdown between the two sides, or whether something else will get in their way entirely, preventing the Marshals from getting their hands on that remote detonator.
As the Marshals catch up with Kerrigan, the group begin to see even more death and destruction. Elizabeth, however, has even more on her plate, as the other Marshals tell her to be careful with the amount of time she seems to be spending with Rubin. With danger all around and trust becoming an issue, things really start to heat up. Who knows what might happen when they meet Kerrigan face to face! I didn’t think Kerrigan would simply give the Marshals what they wanted and let them leave peacefully. The potential danger really kept me on the edge of my seat throughout the final few chapters.
Danger reaches an all time high as the Marshals get close to Kerrigan once more. Not only are they nervous about what to expect when they catch up with him, but they also find themselves face to face with a number of strange creatures, which I did not expect! This was a terrifying ordeal for the characters in the story, but a really gripping experience for myself as a reader. Something so unexpected created that suspense that left me in awe once more. The description here was so impressive!
“With you, I only deal in lead and blood.”
The ending of the book was emotional, action packed, yet satisfying to read. We experience loss of some characters who we’ve followed since the very beginning, but the way in which we get some closure has been written well. It’s fulfilling to know and understand Kerrigan’s fate, as well as that of numerous other characters we have grown to love. A solid story which, in my opinion, has been rounded off to perfection.
Well, what can I say! The Marshal has surprised me on so many levels, and has left me wanting to read more and more of the author’s work. The whole story from start to finish has left me in awe – from the incredible description of settings and characters, to how engaging the whole plot was. In my eyes, this was everything a good book should be! A perfect book for fans of western, or those simply looking for something new, action-packed and exciting.
A huge congrats to J.S. Matthews on this awesome novel! You can purchase your own copy of The Marshal on Amazon, available on Kindle and paperback. 📚 Follow the author over on Facebook for more updates!